The question is simple, what have you given in return to those who make financial donations to your organization? No, I don’t mean little chotchkies, pens or mailing labels.

Maybe it sounds backwards even, “they are supposed to give to us!” But giving, as in any relationship, is a two way street.

Here are three things that every non profit organization should be giving back to its supporters:

1. Education

Most of the people who give to your group do so because they have an interest in your mission and activities. One of the greatest benefits that you can offer is to help educate them further about your cause.

Arts organizations seem to do this naturally. Information about performers and musical selections are included in the evening’s program. Art museums often publish books related to artists and exhibitions.

Any non profit can provide further education and it doesn’t have to cost any extra. You are likely already producing newsletters and a website so include information in these publications that inform readers about the cause. There are several suggestions in the article 27 Story Ideas for Your Non Profit’s Newsletter that will serve this purpose.

You could also sponsor lunchtime seminars, breakfast networking meetings or panel discussions with experts on a particular issue. Partner with similar organizations in your area for an even greater impact.

2. Resources

Donors give because it’s something they feel they can do to help a cause they care about. Some of your supporters will want to go a step further and would appreciate any other resources that you provide.

World Vision Advent BookletLast fall along with the usual donation request letter, World Vision sent me a simple Christmas themed devotional booklet. It included short passages written by their field personnel worldwide, along with scriptures and drawings by children. I really enjoyed reading it and seeing all the different countries represented. It was a nice touch and a practical gift at Christmastime.

If you primarily serve a local audience provide information about upcoming events and “best kept secret” resources that would be of interest to your audience. For example, a school newsletter could provide a list of possible after school educational opportunities for kids. Or how about something as simple as a recipe or game for family time?

3. Success

The best thing you can give your audience is successful outcome on your mission. Keep your mission and vision forefront in your mind and in your daily activities.

Communicating your success is key to making sure donors feel that their contributions have been worthwhile. Let your supporters know when you reach milestones through updates in your newsletters and in special mailings. Publicize your accomplishments to the community at large with press releases and media attention.

Everyone likes to be on the “winning team.” Donors will be more likely to continue supporting you when they know you make good on your promises.

Posted on 12 March 2008

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